Published: 17th March 2021
World Water Day: How this collective created an album about India's water warriors and woes by travelling across the North
These three musicians, who call themselves Faraway Friends, have come up with an album called Rain is Coming, the first-ever release under the newly formed social label Viva con Agua Music
is just a drop
is just a drop
until she meets another
combined they run together
she rinses stone
cuts through walls
she crosses borders
till all the drops become one
big deep blue
where every drop
is just a drop
is just a drop
The same lyrics hold true for Goa-based urban ecologist, singer and songwriter Aditi Veena AKA Ditty, Austrian drummer and producer David Raddish and German rapper Keno Langbein — individual drops who combined forces to deliver a gushing tribute to water and all those who strive to conserve it. How? In the form of an album called Rain Is Coming which releases today on World Water Day.
All the proceeds of the album will go towards Viva con Agua to support water projects in India and worldwide
Think of it as a sonic experience, a social project trip that will take you from Delhi to Varanasi, which is exactly what it was for the collective who met at the behest of the Viva con Agua Foundation, an NGO that works in the realm of water conservation. In fact, it is through this Hamburg-based organisation, which remains active in the German art scene to raise awareness and funds for the projects they support, and its new social label Viva con Agua Music that Rain Is Coming has been released.
Little drops of joy
It was back in August 2019, long before we had heard about the Coronavirus that the collective started on a journey to be introduced to water conservation initiatives and the frontrunners of these movements in India. "David and I were a part of a bigger group travelling to talk about the NGO and we would meet different local groups - they played music for us, we would play for them and that's how it went," says Keno. And on one crazy day, at a hotel built on the banks of the Ganga, they met Ditty. As soon as they found common ground in music and their love for a good cause, they connected and became friends. And while on the journey, they formed the artists collective, Faraway Friends.
Better together | (Pic: Julian Pircher)
While on this close-to-two-week-long trip, the collective met several people who risk their lives for the work they are doing and this led to them being deeply impacted. For Ditty, the environmentalist who grew up in urban India, the experience was both shocking and inspiring at the same time. "Meeting these two (Keno and David) validated a lot of things I was doing as an artist," she says.
The record is made from 100% recycled vinyl and paper
Karauli, Jhansi, Tikamgarh and Varanasi, these and other places were where the collective met water warriors. Their first session at Karauli started with the Water Man of India, Rajendra Singh. And another highlight of their journey was meeting the Jal Sahelis in Jhansi, women who were united in the purpose of reviving traditional water harvesting techniques. "We not only learnt from their grit and lessons, but we also learnt some simple water terms, sang and danced with them," shares Keno, who was in Asia for the first time. And that's how the song Jal Saheli came about.
Hit the record button
David drew out his trusty recorder and hit the red button to record any interesting soundscape he would come across on-field. "I would record almost all day and then come back in the evening and organise everything into a diary of sorts. If I hadn't done that, I would end up with 2,000 recordings towards the end and that would have been messy. And the recording for the album started around January 2020," explains David.
Artwork by Kruttika Susarla and Christoph Knopf | (Pic: Faraway Friends)
From pieces of interviews that happened during the trip to underwater recordings, chants, chimes and more, a lot of samples have made it to the album so much so that every one of the 13 songs carries the sound of water running, splashing, gushing and more. David goes on to explain the rationale behind this and says, "Recordings from nature might appear as noise, but if you listen closely, you'll find a rhythm, little ideas and lines. So in a way, this process was very liberating. I wasn't a 17th-century composer who was writing music on white sheets or settling at a keyboard. I was working with all that I already had." Similarly, one night, when the three musicians were at their hotel in Varanasi, a procession passed by which arrested their attention completely. That's where the inspiration for the song Ganga Hotel happened. "The idea was not to see something and take it home as is. The record needed to have a life of its own, the music needed to exist independently of the message," points out Keno.
Earlier the album was going to be called the Fantastic Island after one of the songs about a plastic island floating in the Pacific Ocean
The language, smells, colours - there is no doubt that there is a lot to take in when it comes to India. Keno's Window, another track on the album that captures the sounds of the trains which ferried the collective from one city to another, is about these reflections. "I remember vividly how we were in a village playing football with the local boys. And when we were about to leave, a lad who was well-versed with English came up to us running and asked in all his innocence, 'Will you play with us tomorrow too?'. It was shocking to me. Hence, I am thankful that we were able to make something of lasting value from our experience. We were clearly not just tourists. And though I couldn't go back to the same boy, maybe through this album we can influence him in some way," says Keno emotionally.
- 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990 worldwide
- 666 million people are still without in the world
- India has 18% of the world's population but only 4% of the average global runoff in rivers
- Nearly 500 million people are affected by drought in India
- Over 20% of the population lives in states which are not yet declared open defecation free
- 1 out of 5 child deaths in India are due to severe diarrhoea
A few lyrics from their song
- Ganga Hotel
let’s go on a trip
don’t know where this ends
three kids who were strangers
are now faraway friends
i tell myself there’s beauty in decay
when have we been so many on the streets for change
- Why Bother
2 trillion tonnes
3 times the size of France
weighing 500 jumbo jets
In the pacific ocean floating
- The Legend of Drops
how did it all begin
is there a right or wrong
is there a life outside
where do the drops come from
To find out more about them check out instagram.com/wearefarawayfriends